Supernatural Snow: Red Bull x Travis Rice

Posted on February 8, 2012

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There’s no denying, and my wife will agree, last weekend I was glued to my Instagram photo stream. In particular, there were a dozen or so ‘grammers that convened together deep in the backcountry surrounding Nelson, British Columbia… at a place known in the Rocky Mountain Trench as Baldface Lodge.

Following the live Instagram stream during the Supernatural event. Photo from the top of the course, by: @baldisbeautiful

Following the live Instagram stream during the Supernatural event. Photo from the top of the course, by: @baldisbeautiful

A premiere destination for backcountry snowcat skiing and snowboarding, Baldface Lodge –and its 32,000 acre backyard– has been on the grid for over 10 years providing access to an annual 500 inches of pristine snowfall. With seven chalets/cabins and one main lodge with dining, aprés and guest rooms, the dream can be yours too for a ballpark $2,000-$4,000 USD not including flight and alcohol.

Of course, if you’ve never heard of Baldface, feel free to continue not hearing about it. Kidding. But seriously, this is the type of place better kept as a pseudo-secret, right? [Queue the Obi-Wan deflection, “These are not the Jedi you’re looking for.”]

Baldface Lodge. Photo: baldface.net

Baldface Lodge. Photo: baldface.net

Not surprisingly, Red Bull and team rider Travis Rice selected this secluded spot as ground zero for their attempt at evolving the freeride snowboard competition. Titled, “Supernatural,” Rice and Red Bull began the course planning two years ago, which includes dozens of video game-like features built into Scary Cherry bowl. Top to bottom, it was a powder-choked playground filled with mountain bike-influenced bridges, gaps and launch pads, natural cliff drops and pillows, as well as a monster 300-foot wide kicker.

This is what happens when lumberjacks and snowboarders hang out in the Rockies. Photo: Danny Zapalac / Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

This is what happens when lumberjacks and snowboarders hang out in the Rockies. Photo: Danny Zapalac / Red Bull Media House North America, Inc.

They kept this project relatively secret until announcing the event in January, when they officially invited some of the world’s top snowboarders to ride the handcrafted course. The competitors had only a few days to read the terrain and prepare their lines, except for Rice who played a major role in designing the event and course. Thanks to a generous snowpack and consistent terrain management by the Baldface crew, the “dream park” was ripe for the picking when the weather window opened on February 4, 2012.

“This is a real snowboard contest. This is no X Games or Olympics. From my background and how I grew up snowboarding, this is the quintessential snowboard event. It truly shows who the best snowboarder is because the top is gnarly boots, the middle is an X Games kicker, and the bottom is some acid-gone-wild jib park!” –Shin Campos, Supernatural Judge [via Snowboarder Magazine]

Mark Sollors sending one of the launch pads at Red Bull Supernatural. Photos © Christian Pondella / Red Bull Content Pool

Mark Sollors sending one of the launch pads at Red Bull Supernatural. Photos © Christian Pondella / Red Bull Content Pool

Results: Travis Rice (1), Gigi Rüf (2), Nicolas Müller (3), John Jackson (Best Trick)

Here is a glimpse of what went down, and the full story can be seen when the event airs on NBC on March 31st. More photos at RedBullUSA.com.

Supernatural Video, by Lib Tech and Red Bull Media House

Rice was also heavily involved with a similar event in 2008 produced by Quicksilver, titled “Natural Selection.” Both events are based around judging an invited class of pro snowboarders as they ride a challenging course created out of natural, backcountry terrain. Natural Selection was staged at Jackson Hole’s legendary Casper Bowl, an event in which Rice was also heavily involved with the planning –and also won the crown.

Kyle Clancy pillows through Casper Bowl during Natural Selection. Photo: Tim Zimmerman

Kyle Clancy pillows through Casper Bowl during Natural Selection. Photo: Tim Zimmerman

Watching all this go down reminded me of similar high-profile events, such as Snowboarder Magazine’s annual Superpark event. Read more about that here, and the infamously-awesome Superpark 13 where I managed Gatorade’s event sponsorship.

    Lonnie Kauk giving his all, in his Sierra backyard. Superpark 13. Photo: Snowboarder Magazine

Lonnie Kauk giving his all, in his Sierra backyard. Superpark 13. Photo: Snowboarder Magazine

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